Rev. Brain Frederick-Gray of First Christian Church of Scottsdale responds to what “Celebration, Celebración! Christ Among Us!” means to her, and all of us at our upcoming 2016 Regional Assembly, Asamblea Convención Arizona.
I am excited for upcoming Arizona Regional Assembly because, well, I’m an ecclesiastical kleptomaniac.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I have a compulsion to rob churches. So don’t worry, East Mesa Christian Church, I’m not coming to Regional Assembly so that I can pilfer your communion trays or sneak away with your choir robes.
When I say I’m an “ecclesiastical kleptomaniac” what I mean is that I love to steal ideas from other churches and church leaders so that I can bring them to the church I serve.
I used to say, “borrow ideas from other church and church leaders” but that really isn’t the right verb. It is not like I would ever say, “Wow! That is a really cool way that your church is welcoming visitors and helping them to feel immediately included in the life of your church. I’m going to use that for a couple of weeks and then it give it back to you when I’m done.” Or, “Oh, you have an innovative new way of doing Vacation Bible School that has the kids totally revved up? Well let me take that for one night and I promise I’ll clean it up before I give it back.”
No, I don’t just want to borrow ideas and best practices from other churches. I want to take those incredible ideas and best practices, put them to use at FCC Scottsdale, and see how those news things influence and shape us at the church as we strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, alive and at work in our world. I want to take your ideas, bring them back to the church I serve, and make them our own! Don’t worry, I always try to remember to give credit where credit is due.
Here is the most exciting part about Regional Assembly to me: It is the single best place to hear about what other churches are doing, learn from their examples, and then bring those same ideas back to the local congregations that we love so dearly. Regional Assembly is like one stop shopping for an ecclesiastical kleptomaniac! (And yes, I know I should have said “one stop shoplifting for an ecclesiastical kleptomaniac” but I didn’t want to run the metaphor completely into the ground!)
We get to share our best practices and ideas in many ways.
- There are the formal ways like Saturday afternoon’s workshop sessions when some of the very best and brightest from our Region will be talking about the things that they are most passionate about. Those sessions are ready made for taking an idea and running with it.
- There are the less formal ways, like the “30-second Celebration Video Clips” that our churches are putting together that will be shared throughout our worship services and business sessions. Those are just commercial-length snippets of ready-made congregational awesomeness.
- And there are the totally informal ways, like the side conversations that we have during coffee breaks in between sessions or during one of the many wonderful meals that we’ll share together. Those fellowship-building conversations are just ripe for the picking, filled with insights and innovative ideas.
In fact, let me give you a little tip.
The theme “Celebration, Celebración!” is just perfect for any aspiring ecclesiastical kleptomaniacs!
Here is what you do: Walk up to anyone at Regional Assembly and say, “Hey, what are you all celebrating at your church?” Because chances are whatever they are celebrating is something that they are proud of, something they are doing really well, and something that is helping to bring glory to God all the while sharing the good news of the gospel. And that, dear friends, is the crown jewels right there. Those are the keys to the kingdom. If you are looking for the best practices that you can bring back to your church just ask somebody, “What are you celebrating?” and then steal that idea and bring it back to your congregation.
So I hope to see you at Regional Assembly. I look forward to hearing about celebrations and the amazing ways that your church is serving the loving, living God that we know through Jesus Christ our Lord. And, I look forward to bringing those ideas to life at my own congregation after I have stolen them! And, I’ll try to remember to give you credit.